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After a particularly terrible day at work, my husband lovingly offered to watch our son while I went to get a pedicure. I stopped into this nail salon near our house where I’ve had adequate and reasonably priced services in the past. The last time I had been in was the day before I was scheduled to be induced. I was determined that the first time I would be able to touch my toes, they would be cute and painted pink.

I remember seeing one of the nail technicians baby daughter the last time I was in. She was about three months younger than my son, and I had asked plenty of questions about the early stages of infant care while I was in. This time, though, the little girl was about 9 months old and still spending her days, for better or worse, in the nail salon.

They had set up a pack and play for her, and she was being loaded into her walker when I arrived. As the adorable little girl began to wander around the salon, every mom in the place turned their attention to her as they were getting their nails done. Everyone’s face lit up to see this smiling little tot slowly make her way around the salon. I even made a comment about how sweet she was, and how you could tell which of us were moms because we all were watching her with the same silly grins on our faces.

Then things got weird.

The little girl began to explore her environment, as 9 month old babies are wont to do. She got a little close to one of the other nail technicians (not her mother), who proceeded to bump into the baby’s walker. “Go away!” she said. I thought she was just being playful. Then she did it again. “Nobody likes you.” she said. I was shocked. Was this a joke? Apparently not.

The nail technician shoved her again with the chair, and the little girl looked like she was ready to cry. She moved on to another area, where one of the rolling set of drawers was set off to the side since it wasn’t being used. Another of the nail technicians began to flick the little girl’s hands and then held up a towel like she was going to backhand her. The little girl flinched, threw her head back, and began to cry in fear.

The nail technician who was doing my pedicure began to egg the other woman on, telling her to “beat her! beat her! If you don’t, I will!” No one ever made contact with her, but the woman who threatened to hit her began telling the baby that she was “ugly” and “no one likes you.” The little girl began to cry heavily at this point. The nail technician doing my service recounted a video they took the other day of the baby crying where they were telling her all these things and how “it was so wrong, but it was hilarious. You’d laugh,” she said, not to me, I don’t think, just to the room.

At that point, I had seen enough. I told her not to finish the service, and that I had to leave. I couldn’t abide this anymore, although I’m ashamed that I didn’t say anything. I just left, paying the service, and vowing never to go back. I rushed home and scooped up my own little one. I held him close and felt the tears running down my face finally. I swore to him that I would never let anyone treat him in such a way. I don’t know how some people can live with themselves, since no one but me seemed all that disturbed by the behavior. I’ll never go back, though.